Mercenaries have existed as long as organized armies and for as long as they have existed they have been despised and denigrated. Aristotle wrote against them,[i] as did Machiavelli.[ii] Yet there has always been a “market for mercenaries.”[iii] In the mid-20th Century’s best market for mercenaries was the newly independent Republic of the Congo, indeed Africa in the 1960s was a “golden age” of mercenarism.[iv]
This paper will examine what were the specific circumstances during the Congo Crisis of 1960-67 that precipitated this new heyday of the mercenary and what where the responses to this new mercenarism? Mercenarism as a military, political, and economic phenomenon in post-colonial Congo will be examined. By focusing on the Congo Crisis, this paper will illustrate the circumstances that encourage the wide-scale use of mercenary soldiers. Counter-mercenary operations will be examined. Further, mercenarism as a driver for United Nation interventionism and Cold War conflict in the post-imperial Third World will be explored. Lastly, the economics of mercenarism will be analyzed.
[i] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1116b and Politics 1306a
[ii] Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XII.
[iii] David A. Latzko, “The Market for Mercenaries” presented at the Eastern Economic Association Meetings, Crystal City, VA, April 4, 1997 at http://www.personal.psu.edu/~dxl31/ research/presentations/mercenary.html. (Accessed 18 Dec. 2013)
[iv] Mpako H. Foaleng, “Private Security in Africa: Manifestation, Challenges and Regulation”, Monograph No 139, November 2007, Institute for Security Studies at http://www.issafrica.org/. (Accessed 18 Dec. 2013)